A&B) After reading and reflecting the book of Acts, I would identify the five most
important themes as:
· Profound Beginning- The Departure of Jesus (Ascension)
· The Plan Revealed by Jesus
· Transformation- Something important happens that transforms the disciples
· The Early Church- The Power and Guidance of the Holy Spirit
· The Rise of Paul
My reasoning for identifying these as the five most important themes for this book
reflects my opinion that these are some of the themes that clarifies historical events.
These historical events explain an important history that shapes or should shape our view
of the impact of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the details of the church along with the
influence that a disciple of Christ can have. When we read the New Testament, we notice
that it consists of different sections. The first section consists of the four Gospels that
illustrate Jesus’ life on Earth. A later section after Acts begins with Romans, and this
involves churches that came about after Jesus departed the Earth by ascending to heaven.
As we enter the book of Romans and almost the rest of the New Testament, we learn
about Paul as a proclaimed servant of Jesus Christ and his ministry. However, it is the
book of Acts where we learn how much of this came to action. This book serves as a
description of the great transition from the life of Jesus Christ to the establishment of the
new church. We remember that in Matthew 16:18 NIV Jesus promised, “I will build my
church” and it is in Acts where we see an illustration of this event took place. The book
opens with the ascension of Jesus. It is here is where He tells His followers not to leave
Jerusalem and that the Holy Spirit will come. After He mentions the Holy Spirit, He
ascends and disappears from their sight. We remember in John 16:6-7 NIV it says that
Jesus had to go away; otherwise, the Counselor will not come. During the Pentecost
holiday (beginning of Acts in chapter 2), the disciples kept Jesus’ instructions and waited
for what Jesus said was going to happen. Powerfully, the Holy Spirit comes and enters
their bodies- this is where the transformation takes place. Peter is probably the most
noticeable exemplar of this transformation. He denied Jesus to save himself, but with this
transformation, he speaks firmly to the Jews and Roman authorities. He declared that
Jesus is the Messiah and the fulfillment of the Jews’ long-awaited anticipation, and that
the people were wrong for what they did to Him. The people were spiritually hurting, and
then Peter pleaded with them to repent, follow Jesus, be baptized, and save themselves.
With this powerful message of Peter, thousands of people responded and the Christian
church come to life. The growth of the early church is due to the power and guidance of
the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit fell on different groups of new believers such as the Jews
(4:31), Samaritans (8:17), Gentiles (10:44), and on people led by John the Baptist (19:6).
As mentioned earlier, we learn about Paul as a proclaimed servant of Jesus Christ, his
ministry, and it is the book of Acts where we learn how much of this came to action.
Paul, initially known as Saul, was a persecutor of believers in Christ. Members of the
early Christian church lived under persecution and scrutiny. Stephen, one of the leaders
within the early Christian church, was the first martyr as he was publicly stoned. Saul
participated in Stephen’s execution and had a murderous reputation. Saul converts to
following Christ after his pivotal event in Damascus, changes his name with his identity,
and rises to become a very influential missionary and messenger of the Gospel.
These major sections relate to each other by concentrating on the message of God
(through Jesus), the power and guidance of God (through the Holy Spirit) and recording
the early history of the relations between the church and the Roman Empire. Acts also
summarizes important words of Jesus, Peter, Paul, and some others. The followers of
Jesus began to teach the facts of Jesus’ life as inspired by God through the Holy Spirit.
This leads to the establishment of the church, and it will continue to teach us through and
until the ends of the Earth.
C) The beginning of the book of Acts relates to the end of it. This is how, in the beginning of
this book we read about how the Christian church comes to life, at the end of the book we read
that the future of this new church (if you will), depends greatly on happens to Paul, God’s chosen
apostle to the Gentiles. The last chapters of this book illustrate tragedy that turns into a good
ending. What happens is Paul gets arrested, a ship wrecks, he is bit by a snake, but he still lands
in Rome and continues to share the Good News. Many people convert to the new faith and
Christianity spreads from Jerusalem to Rome, and Paul takes time to write letters to churches.
These events helped to establish a very important movement and development of the Word of
D) I would choose (2:37-41) as a “strategic passage” which could be used as a “window”
through which to preach or teach this book “as a whole.” I would choose this passage in Acts
because I think that this is one of the defining versus of where the new church began and how it
started. These verses read, “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to
Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ Peter replied, ‘Repent and be
baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you
will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who
are far off- for all whom the Lord our God will call.’ With many other words he warned them;
and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ Those who accept his
message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” This
passage is very important in church history and for any believer in Christ-to know how it all
began. The number of new believers started to increase. As Jesus predicted, the message spreads
throughout the region, and shortly after it enters Rome, and it spreads worldwide.
E) The message of his book fits with the biblical narrative (6 acts) laid out by Bartholomew
and Goheen. I think the biblical narrative of these authors matches with the message of
redemption (due to the repentance described in Acts), and restoration. The book of Acts shows
us that there was disbelief and regret coming from God’s children, then there was a revelation
that changed everything. The Lord, through His love and mercy, comes to the world through His
Son Jesus Christ by means of the Spirit to enable the non-believers to repent and follow Him.
This consists of restoration and redemption of God’s people.
F) I would guess the themes of this book that participate in large themes sweeping across the
Bible are the stories of the repentance and restoration. I guessed these themes because they not
only teach us about the works of Jesus Christ the Messiah, but they also teach us about the love
of God and His desire to bring us all back to Him. This also not lonely gives reason why Christ
had to come to Earth, but this also reveals to us how the Godhead works together to rescue and
call the Lord’s people to Himself. We needed Jesus to die for our sins, but we also needed the
Holy Spirit to enter our ancestors in order to share the message of God. What comes next is we
have to maintain the legacy of the church. We have to believe that the Lord will continue to fill
us with His Holy Spirit in order to share His message. This will consist of the message of God’s
desire to restore all of His creation, call His children to Himself, and for all of us to come
together as a body of believers to live for only His glory. Everything has to reach the right
fulfillment, as described in Ephesians 1:9-10.
Yancey, Philip, and Tim Stafford. Student Bible: New International Version. Grand Rapids: 2006.